Colorado Buffaloes

Darnold's Trojans appear ready to handle lofty expectations

Sky-high preseason expectations are an annual tradition at Southern California, right up there with the Salute to Troy kickoff event and the weekly lighting of the Coliseum torch before the fourth quarter.

Actually meeting those expectations has fallen out of favor since Pete Carroll left town eight seasons ago.

But after a nine-game unbeaten run culminated in a Rose Bowl victory last fall, coach Clay Helton and his calmer, gentler USC program finally appear ready to fulfill their bountiful promise for an entire season.

"When you come to USC, you welcome those expectations," Helton said. "We've created a lot of momentum and a lot of confidence with what...